COPE councillor David Cadman raises crime fears over casino in downtown Vancouver

Coalition of Progressive Electors councillor David Cadman says a proposed downtown Vancouver casino expansion may attract international criminals.

Cadman also questioned the absence of community benefits resulting from the operations of the Las Vegas–based casino firm Paragon Development Ltd.

“We’re now dealing with international criminal elements from Asia, from South America, from the United States, from Canada, from India,” Cadman told the Straight.

False Creek neighbourhood activist Sean Bickerton echoed Cadman’s concerns about crime. “I’m concerned about bringing those influences into our downtown,” Bickerton, a former NPA council candidate, told the Straight.

However, Vancouver police spokesperson Const. Lindsey Houghton downplayed these fears. “As long as they’re [casinos are] properly regulated,” Houghton told the Straight, “as long as we have that ongoing communicative relationship with them, specifically with respect to casinos and the provincial government and the RCMP, who have regulatory oversight with respect to things like FINTRAC [the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada], then we don’t see any major issues.”

Paragon intends to move the Edgewater Casino from its Plaza of Nations location after its lease expires in 2013 to a 680,000-square-foot entertainment complex next to B.C. Place. From 45 gambling tables and 493 slot machines, the company will increase its capacity to 150 tables and 1,500 slots.

Cadman expects a staff report soon on the application by the B.C. Pavilion Corporation to rezone B.C. Place as a mixed-use site that includes two hotels, a casino, restaurants, and a theatre.

According to Vision Vancouver councillor Raymond Louie, the previous NPA–dominated council in 2008 gave away the city’s right to demand public amenities from future developers of the B.C. Place site and the rest of the False Creek North area.

“I voted against that, and so did all the Vision councillors,” Louie told the Straight. “The community-amenity contribution from that 1.4 million square feet is no longer available.”

The same council agreed to take the installation of a new retractable roof on B.C. Place as the sole public benefit for allowing development at False Creek North.

NPA councillor Suzanne Anton speculated that either Paragon or the province may offer to build a small amenity like a playground. “There’s a certain amount of give and take with every development in the city,” Anton told the Straight.

Comments

9 Comments

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Jan 13, 2011 at 12:29pm

Another bad deal brought to you by the NPA.

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RonS

Jan 13, 2011 at 12:34pm

Of course casino's attract crime, just ask the LIbERalS. They seem to love crime with the opening of a multitude of casino's since elected. And the evidence bears it out, just ask the RCMP and CBC.

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Sean Bickerton

Jan 13, 2011 at 3:53pm

It is the tripling of tables and slot machines, and this huge Vegas-owned casino right downtown that are so problematic. The Edgewater was owned locally and the owners were very responsible and responsive to all community concerns - they were good citizens. With Paragon there has not been one meeting to allay our concerns.

Further, the RCMP have recently raised very serious concerns about money-laundering, one of the biggest problems with casino criminality.

The deal stinks! They are paying nothing in local community amenities even though the BC Lottery Corp will pay them millions every year to offset the cost of building their casino. It's great for the Las Vegas companies that are going bankrupt in Vegas and looking for new ways to make money. But a terrible deal for local residents.

And finally, since the BC Lottery Corp stopped paying their contractual obligations to support amateur sports, arts and local charities, and since they have instead paid out hundreds of millions to wealthy private casino owners, we have to reconsider the entire gambling industry that contributes nothing except to fat cat bureaucrats padding their own salaries and importing $10 million of custom furniture for their new Vancouver offices.

Stop This Casino!

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Ziggles

Jan 13, 2011 at 3:54pm

Why is it that every single time Raymond Louie is quoted in any publication, all he ever does is bitch about the NPA? Honestly, someone needs to tell him to STFU already and act like an adult and not some whiney teenager. In fact, I'd sure like to know what Vision's stance is on this casino, as they have been very cagey about their position. I have no interest in reading his bitching and moaning about the previous council.

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tedster

Jan 13, 2011 at 5:13pm

Ever tried telling your kids that bullets can't come through walls?

Is that even true?

We are in the midst of an out of control gang war, and our kids are being woken from their sleep by gunfire in the streets at Christmastime.

Why doesn't Solicitor General Rich Coleman take gangs in casinos seriously? He might as well put up signs outside casinos reading: "Launder Your Money Here."

Coleman's conduct is nothing short of bizarre.

1. In January 2009 he got a report from his specialist gambling unit warning him that police resources were so weak that NONE of the FINTRAC reports on suspicious transactions were being investigated. More resources were needed to protect casinos from organized crime. The report also warned of institutional corruption and the potential for infiltration.

Faced with this sobering warning, Coleman took immediate and decisive action--he disbanded the gambling unit, leaving no one to investigate suspected money laundering.

2. FINTRAC, concerned by BC's failure to do anything about the growing problem in BC casinos,took the unprecedented step of fining the BC Lottery Corp $670,000 in July 2010;

3. Immediately after this fine, 2 BC casinos let people change 8 million dollars in massive unreported cash transactions. The head of RCMP;s Proceeds of Crime Unit says on national TV that this looks suspicious.

Coleman's response? Tweak a couple of rules about casino chips and tell the public that we don't really understand these sophisticated high-rollers who like to carry around half a million dollars in small bills in plastic bags. Furthermore, that head of the Proceeds of Crime Unit will now be called before his superiors to back up his inflammatory statement.

This could be stupidity and incompetence. Am I allowed to say it might possibly be something worse? Because the one thing this doesn't look like is an experienced law enforcement professional trying to stop organized crime.

Vancouver City Council: We are looking to you to protect Vancouver from more gangs and more crime. SAY NO to the Edgewater Casino expansion!

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RickW

Jan 13, 2011 at 7:12pm

The only thing I have yet to figure out is whether Campbell was coerced into gambling expansion, or whether he is in cahoots.......
RickW

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james green

Jan 13, 2011 at 8:51pm

David is a good man but a little naive about crime. OUT LOUD!!!
We already have international criminals here. Who is suppling the heroin, and other drugs and whom is involved in massive human trafficking
with our local gangs? You win the car. International Criminals.
Also, if anyone should get elected in Nov. please demand that they know what is going on in the city they would be a councillor for.
Local gangs cannot gain the drugs and people our local gangs do without working with international criminals.
Wake up David.

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Jackie

Jan 13, 2011 at 9:01pm

Raymond should stop whining, he and his then-COPE and now Vision colleagues were responsible for allowing casinos, especially in the PNE in Vancouver in the first place? Why, because their union buddies want a piece of the pie,

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james green

Jan 15, 2011 at 1:35pm

Vision and Louie and the gang got contributions for their last campaign from the casino owners, so they do the casino owners work at the council table. Everyone is gearing up for the next election so we better be ready for a new pack of lies and spins and promises they cannot kee.

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